Reviewbr> "And there I was thinking Wesley is the only psycho in town" - Caroline
A group of ex-contestants from a reality show return for a supposed post season special. The only person missing is Wesley, one of the contests who went slightly Jason Voorhees after being voted off the Island. About the only real background we get on the characters is one of them broke up his marriage during the season and is now engaged to one of the chicks from the show. Oh and I guess Nasty Nigel as the name implies, isn't the nicest person you could hope to meet.
After spending a night in a cabin, which had "you are all going to die", painted on one of the walls, our group of reality survivors suddenly find the yacht that deposited them on the Island has gone missing, their water tank has been poisoned with dead rats, and there's nary a sign of a film crew. Naturally as people start disappearing all thoughts turn to Wesley, but is that the only twist in the tale on offer?
You know there are all these tropes when it comes to slasher flicks, and Director/Writer David Douglas signs off on all of them while getting them wrong. About the only thing Douglas kicks through the nets is the final girl being a part of a final couple, hey as argued here before the whole "final girl" concept was created by an Academic out to pan handle her thesis and the gullible horror community lap that up like starving dogs presented with their own vomit. So two thumbs up to Douglas for at least seeing through that particular bollock and getting his slasher conventions on. A whole shining point for this aspect alone, okay put off the rest of the review lets rock it from the delta to the DMZ. Unfort we're in here for the duration, lets count some crow people.
Douglas dispenses with the teens in peril aspect that enlivened movies like Friday the 13th. Good move, firstly it was always notable that the teens in peril were at least in their mid to late twenties, and let's face facts here folks, who really cared about irritating demanding teens being sliced and diced by masked antagonists with fixed agendas. At least Douglas goes with twenty something irritating demanding characters that we don't care about. On the bright side of the machete there's only a couple of stock characters, with at least some thought given to how to include people who normally wouldn't have a beer together if there was only one pub in town and the thermometer just passed 40, (that would be Celsius for our North American readers). So there's a positive, at least the list of characters with "victim" tattooed onto their foreheads aren't your standard Hollywood mix and match assortment.
I was also pretty impressed with our six victims, three chicks and three blokes, being enticed to an isolated deserted Island and then having their only means of transport, the yacht, being taken out of the equation. How often have you watched a slasher and wondered why people didn't just exit stage left at warp factor nine? Here Douglas ensures people want to get out of Dodge and then removes their only exit option. Solid piece of writing that promises some good sauce on our cinematic menu.
A slasher movie that tropes when it tropes and then misses the point entirely.From there unfortunately it's all pretty much downhill and to be frank a bit of a slog to get through as the pacing lumbers along like a Pommie opening pair on an overcast morning in Hobart. We know who our assailant is, and irritating the why of it all that doesn't really add much to the whole shenanigans. Even our token "final girl" nod is pretty obvious from the first minute, though as stated we get a final couple rather than some chick who manages to nail running in high heels. I hadn't actually realised how much a good slasher relies on the unveiling of the antagonist and the motivations in the final act till watching this movie, if you already know this stuff then the movie drags man, it drags like a drag Queen at a drag fashion convention.
Topping the list of cinematic evils committed in the name of slasherdom are the actual death scenes, pretty much all filmed off camera. Oh while I'm on this point, dig the use of handhelds to not only film some scenes but also being used as major props in the movie. While there's a couple of inventive kills, and I guess that's what the audience are tuning in for, there's nothing Vietnam War movie vets haven't laid eyes on before. I kind of dug the man traps, but then thought Douglas got carried away with being clever and spent a few too many frames focusing in on what must have been high budget scenes or something. In the wash up if you are like one of those people who dial in for the "gnarly deaths" or are a member of the gorehound pack then you are apt to being heavily disappointed.
Also proving to be an elusive element is T&A, Douglas clearly not noting his intended Audience here. We get a couple of hot chicks in bikinis, a don't blink or you will miss it white bra scene, and the gals get the square root. Honestly what has the slasher movie industry come down to when you can't even rely on a couple of topless shots? Shame Douglas shame, it's called exploitation Bro, and since it's Downunder that would be Ozploitation yo!
Our token final girl, who remains as expected fully clothed throughout, even when pulling off a shirt to make a battlefield bandage, does run across the victims helpfully displayed in a stunning Muriel by our local Dexter. That's a slasher requirement dating back to the original Halloween for any teens reading. But you get the feeling Douglas thought he should stage the scene rather than really doing anything with it, there's surprisingly a lack of emotion going down. Guess it doesn't help that the movie is really dragging at this stage.
So by about now you are probably simply dying, no pun intended, to know how we deduced who the "final girl" was, and since it underlines the problems with Safety In Numbers let's talk about that for a couple of minutes, and a few hundred words for our Editor's benefit. Douglas opens his movie with a promising sequence of a blonde chick running through bushland, clearly scared witless and being pursued by person or persons unknown. It's actually a striking sequence that is undermined when we learn it was all a dream. Obviously it's also an omen for things to come, like the six dead rats in the water tank on the Island. What's made painfully clear at this point is the other two gals are sunbaking in their bikinis while Jen, the blonde chick, has enough clothes on to pass muster down the local fundamentalist Muslim concave. I'm pretty much ready to rest my case right here and go grab lunch during the recess. We then learn our six young people, term used loosely, were all contests on "Castaway Island 2005", with Nasty Nigel the eventual winner. Through the first block of the movie Jen is constantly looking round, like she is aware of Douglas' psycho POV camera prowling away in the bush. The other two chicks, who are so dead, are of course oblivious to the danger lurking in the woods. Unfortunately since it's obvious that Jen is going to survive through to "the shock re-appearance of the psycho in the last reel" moment there's no further surprises as the cattle are whittled down to finally Jen confronting the obviously delusional Wesley in the false final scene. It's pretty much by the book folks with nothing to have you sitting up and taking notice.
I should also mention a couple of plot foreshadows that really do nothing, does Douglas even understand how they are meant to work? Early in the movie one character doesn't want to go out into the dark to fix down the cover of a water tank that is banging away like Linda Lovelace in a feature length porno. One of his reasons is the spiders out there in the dark. And do we get a spider later in the movie, oh hell yeah, a big hairy one. While the scene where our arachnid appears might have an impact on the arachnophobia suffering members of the audience it doesn't do anything for the plot advancement. Was quietly hoping for something slightly more grisly there to be honest. Equally there's some notable long lingering looks at a machete, that does come into play late in the movie, though it's off camera and implied. When you can't even nail down your plot foreshadows correctly then Bubba you really are in trouble.
Final comment on the score and we'll rap. While I dug the Bali enthused influences coming my way at stages, it strangely works, I was less than impressed when the score descended into the sort of thing you hear on the ABC Sunday night during the British murder mysteries, all very prime and proper and parlour room acceptable.
A couple of things I've written down in my viewing notes but didn't get around to covering. There's more creepy crawlies investing one scene of this movie than an arse load of Long Weekends could hope to contain. Jeez there's some crap acting in this movie.
While I've probably painted a picture, and kept between the lines too, of a movie that is a labour to sit through I sort of followed along with Safety In Numbers. For sure it's not the worse movie I've seen this year, and definitely not the worse Aussie outing, retaining a sort of fatalistic how bad can this get aspect, but it's pretty bad. No recommendation kids, I wanted to know how things ended up, we get gipped there too, else I would have switched the movie off and watched some Dora the Explorer instead. One for slasher enthusiasts or those who simply must see every Aussie horror flick ever released. In either case you're a tragic, just like me, but hey someone has to take a bullet for humanity.
Okay if you really must hunt this one out then your best bet is amazon.com, considering the mentions we make of that site we should demand some advertising coin. There doesn't appear to be a region four release, but the region one comes with some features that I didn't check out, so value or something for money right there. I should also point out that the cover is pretty cool, loved the reflections in the knife that never plays a part in the movie. If you see this as a rental and are pretty dirty on yourself, then score!